Medicine Hat Media

Medicine Hat Police Service Fail

We all have an opinion on the Medicine Hat Police Service, but what happens to our opinion of the organization and its chief, Andy McGrogan, when they get called to deal with a potentially live artillery shell that happens to be in a school? No hype intended or required, they accomplished this all on their own:

The story starts out with James Chatfield, an electrician and a former British Army soldier, doing work in CAPE School. He stumbles upon an artillery shell in a storage room above the stage of the gymnasium that is rarely used. Though it is kind of random that it was there, anyone would understand that the principal, teacher, students and parents would definitely treat this as a threat; anyone but the Police, it appears.

The Principal immediately called the Medicine Hat Police, who responded that they were “too busy” to deal with it right away. The Canadian Forces Base in Suffield was then called, but the school was out of their jurisdiction, so the Police were called a second time. At length, an officer was sent to remove the shell in a fairly unprofessional manner. As the unofficial story goes, the officer knocked on the shell and apathetically tossed it into the back of his cruiser before taking off. Does Medicine Hat have a bomb squad? I cannot see the need for one, but having an experienced individual probably would not be such a bad thing.

Obviously the shell had been sitting there for over half a century and is probably a dud, but as the former soldier, James Chatfield says: “As soon as that outer shell starts to rust and corrode, these things can be dangerous,”

The Police Chief, Andy McGrogan, then followed up with:

“We wouldn’t have made it a priority call, because as I said, we get so many of them. We don’t get calls about them every day, but it’s not uncommon for us to get calls about shells, and in most cases, we find they’re basically duds or they’ve been expended,” McGrogan says.

“It was a shell from 1940 — it’s been there for decades. I’ve got to wonder what’s the rush sometimes.”

Pretty witty, but concerned parents and teachers do not like wit, and probably like Andy McGrogan and a seemingly unconcerned Police Service even less. What is more important than a possibly explosive artillery shell sitting in a school? I bet if the Police Chief’s children went to that school, they would have been there as soon as possible.

The official story can be found on The Medicine Hat News

User Comments

5 Responses to “Medicine Hat Police Service Fail”

  1. November 6th, 2009 at 2:22 PM

    Vaughn says:

    I don’t know, I kind of agree with the Police on this but I don’t agree with their attitude about it. Sure, it’s probably not harmful or dangerous, but there is a chance it might be – no need to disrespect parents and teachers looking out for safety of kids.

  2. November 7th, 2009 at 3:20 PM

    Brian says:

    From the article in the MH News the electrician that found the shell said it was “just about pick-up time”. The school should have been evacuated (which it was) until the police could get there. I don’t see what the emergency was about or if parents are really that concerned if their kids were evacuated to a nearby school and school was nearly over anyways. How would there be any danger if the kids were evacuated? Schools are capable of evacuating their students without cops being present.

    I’ve been on a ride-along (which turned out to be quite busy) with a cop before and I have profound respect for the garbage they deal with. This probably wasn’t a priority because cops were busy dealing with actual problems like domestic violence calls. Not some random shell from the 40s in an empty school.

    I will admit that the way you describe the cop inspecting the shell sounds a bit dangerous but maybe it was obvious to him that it was empty. Maybe he did know what he was looking for and realized it was no danger. At any rate, I don’t understand how parents could be upset if their kids were evacuated anyway. Sounds like a typical non-story being blown out of proportion in Medicine Hat

  3. November 7th, 2009 at 8:11 PM

    Sean says:

    Brian: I admit that it is pretty much blown out of proportion. Maybe it was a dud, maybe it wasn’t, but in either case, prolly just let the kids go home for the day and get the police in. If it’s been there for 50 years, one more day won’t do much. My dislike is just how the Police Chief handled it. He basically said “You guys [the public] worry too much, your concerns aren’t mine.” or something.

  4. November 8th, 2009 at 12:01 AM

    Brian says:

    Your right. Perhaps they need to free up some room in the budget for public relations training! I always wondered how long it would take me to say something stupid or offensive if I held some sort of public office. I think I could make it six months.

  5. November 15th, 2009 at 2:06 AM

    Rod says:

    The problem isn’t an unexploded ordnance that has been sitting there for 40 years. The problem is when people find it and start disturbing it. Total police service fail, but then again we are assuming that the police have someone more qualified than joe blow to come and remove the item.

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